Friday, May 13, 2011

Conference Asks: What Should the Future of Food Look Like?

Cross-posted from

All photos courtesy of

By Mara Schechter

“What has brought us here today is the belief that our current food system is broken… and we believe this system must be changed,” said Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation” and co-producer of “Food, Inc,” at the Future of Food Conference last Wednesday at Georgetown University. Organized by Washington Post Live, this conference brought together policymakers, scientific experts, advocates and food company leaders to think about how to fix the food system.

While not everyone agreed on the best way to go about changes—for example, Susan Crockett, a head of General Mills, had different prescriptions than did Marion Nestle, an advocate for unprocessed foods—all of the conference participants agreed that the conversation was critical and timely.

Author and educator Wendell Berry blamed industrialization for a host of ills, including climate change, hunger, and poverty. “We have no time to spare,” said Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO of Stonyfield Farm. Patrick Holden, Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, urged, “Not only is the current model…unsustainable, but it needs a radical transformation.”

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Blogroll

It's Sunday again, so here is our second blogroll. Take a break from studying for finals and check out some of the green news circulating online this week! If you comment and let me know which kind of articles and topics you liked best, I’ll be sure to include more of them next Sunday.

First, a follow-up to Thursday’s post about the congressional hearing on EPA regulation of mountaintop removal mining (MTR). Come to Part II of the hearing and see EPA administrator Lisa Jackson tell the other side of the story. Read this post on the blog of Appalachian Voices for an overview of the isseus.

Now, Mother’s Day news. A HuffPost Green columnist’s children celebrate Mother’s Day the green way, and Treehugger reports on how you can have a sustainable, humanitarian Mother’s Day too.

You can also take action on Mother’s Day without spending any more money. One in six mothers in the United States have enough mercury in their bodies to harm their babies during pregnancy. Greenpeace asks for your signature on a petition to EPA to limit toxic mercury pollution from coal-powered power plants.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mountaintop Removal Mining: Seeing Government inAction

On Thursday morning, six of us from progressive groups at Georgetown went to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing entitled “EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part I.” (Note the title, about which more later.) Claire Austin (SFS ’12), co-president of EcoAction, works at Appalachian Voices, an environmental nonprofit focused on protecting the land, air and water of Appalachia. Appalachian Voices asked us to come pack the hearing room with me to show the committee that we oppose efforts to weaken the EPA’s authority to regulate mountaintop removal mining (about which more below). We were happy to help and to get the chance to see government in action.

Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) is a form of coal mining where the summit of a mountain is blown up with explosives in order to extract coal from the exposed coal seams beneath. The leftover earth, known as “overburden,” is dumped in an adjacent valley to create a “valley fill.” MTR is used extensively in Appalachia. Check out this helpful FAQ from for more data on where and how coal companies are using MTR.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Blogroll

This week, I thought we'd try a blogroll. It's hard to keep track of all the environmental news online, so I compiled some Georgetown, local, and national news, both from news sites and from blogs. Comment if you like this type of post! If so, we can make it a regular feature.

In Georgetown news, The Hoya covers the DC Green Student Organization Forum! A great overview, and insightful quotes from Bettina and Maddie.

The Georgetown website (who writes these articles?) celebrates GU's improvement in Recyclemania this year. We were in the top 10% of the Grand Champion category.

In DC news, the District has ranked as the top state for LEED certified buildings, GreenerBuildings reports.

In national news, the New York Times's Green blog compiled a list of the top twenty solar states. Unfortunately, DC didn't make the cut, but maybe your home state did!

In case you haven't had enough of the royal wedding already, an Ecouterre columnist is making the case that Kate Middleton's ring was eco-friendly because it was locally mined and repurposed.

Did you miss our screening of The Vanishing of the Bees in March? You can learn all about Colony Collapse Disorder in the Beekeeper's column on the Daily Green this week.

A blogger on HuffPost Green asks a question that plagues many environmentalists who have troubling giving up meat products: Is Half a Vegan Better Than None?

We were all jealous of GWU's and American's progress at the forum last night, and now we can be jealous of Germany and Brazil too. Visit Grist to learn about how climate change legislation is advancing in other countries.

Finally, if you need to be cheered up, check out this Treehugger article about lessons the writer learned about eating from her ridiculously adorable puppy. And yes, there is a picture.